Thursday, 16 September 2010

Southport bucks the trend again and again and again........

Writing in the current edition of the Liberal History Journal John Prof Curtice looks at the Party's 2010 performance. I have no doubt his figures are correct- the only problem for me is that the conclusions he draws do not fit Southport-we did far better. It is not the first time we've bucked the trend. Chris Rennard in his obituary of Cyril Smith pointed out that there were 4 important new second places at the 1970 election -and one of them was Southport. In some ways even more exceptional was Sam Goldberg's second place in 1959 achieved in a three cornered fight. So, is there something we can teach others? -we have rather a reputation for not slavishly following the Campaign Departments advice!

First let us establish the facts. John Curtice's analysis show how Lib Dems performed in different types of seats. This is set out in the table below
How the Liberal Democrat performance varied
First party/second party 2005 Mean change in Liberal Democrat
share of vote since 2005
Conservative/Labour +3.3
Labour/Conservative +0.6
Conservative/Liberal Democrat +0.5
Labour/Liberal Democrat +0.4
Liberal Democrat/Conservative –0.4
Liberal Democrat/Labour –0.9

So in a seat like Southport you'd expect a negative swing. Indeed in the NW if we look at the two seats to the south of Manchester-Cheadle and Hazel Grove- that looks right. In Hazel Grove the share of the vote slipped 0.7% and the Tory vote rose 3.9% and in Cheadle the vote fell 5.2%. As the table below shows in Southport we rose 3.3%

Southport General Election Result
Turnout: 43757 (65%)
Liberal Democrats: 21707 (+3.3%)
Conservative: 15683 (−1.2%)
Labour: 4116 (−3.4%)

Curtice's second point of interest is that:
Meanwhile, the party’s vote actually fell back somewhat in those seats it was attempting to defend.

Well that didn't happen to us-and we were not alone as Curtice acknowledges:

The one group of Liberal Democrat MPs that did manage to increase their support quite substantially comprised those who f irst captured their seat in 2005 and were thus defending it for the first time. On average their vote increased by 3.1 points

that certainly fits in the NW with Tim Farron's performance but again Southport doesn't fit even this 'exception' . John Pugh was first elected in 2001-I should know I was his agent. We won well particularly as he was not the incumbant. In fact Southport has won 5 of the last 6 general elections and therefore it may have been expected that we would have suffered some of the fall off in vote that other seats experience.

A later posting will look at some of the suggestions of how we bucked the trend....... I wonder if anyone wants to hear?


  1. In 1987 Southport was the only seat gained by the Liberal/SDP Alliance in the whole of England & Wales.

  2. well we could go on, the control of the Council in the 1960s was pretty exceptional


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